RUBBISH dumping and littering is becoming a major problem on the Mornington Peninsula, with residents, businesses and holiday makers continuing to use the beaches, roadsides and open spaces to unload their waste.
The Environment Protection Authority is encouraging the reporting of vehicles seen littering by phoning 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842), and also to report illegally dumped industrial waste, which spokesman John Rees says tends to happen in isolated areas, such as reserves.
“Reporting littering helps us prevent pollution in Victoria,” he said.
Mornington Peninsula Shire Council is also grappling with increasing amounts of litter on streets, roadways and beaches, which is not just unsightly, but can have a devastating impact on the environment and wildlife.
Climate change and sustainability manager Melissa Burrage said litter dropped on the streets inevitably made its way through the stormwater system to the bays and ocean, and also into creeks and wetlands.
“It is a whole-of-community issue and not something the shire can solve alone,” she said.
“Each of us has a role to play by always binning our litter, trying to buy things with less packaging, taking part in community clean up days and finding ways to reduce, reuse and recycle. We recently created a dedicated litter prevention team to help stop illegal dumping and investigate instances of dumped rubbish.
“The team has been involved in a number of successful investigations resulting in the removal of dumped waste and the issuing of substantial penalty notices to offenders.”
Since July 2021, the shire has followed up about 3500 requests to clean up litter and unidentifiable waste (where prosecution is not possible) and disposed of almost 2000 cubic metres of dumped waste.
Litter, as opposed to illegal dumping of industrial waste, is a council matter unless it has been thrown from a car.
All littering from vehicles, such as cigarette butts, plastic bags, food packaging and drinks containers, should be reported to the EPA.
A person can be reported for littering within seven days of it happening if it occurred from inside a vehicle; just before they get into a vehicle; and just after they get out of a vehicle.
Fines for an individual are $363 for a small piece of litter or $727 for a lit cigarette or burning litter; and for a corporation it jumps to $1817 for a small piece of litter or $3635 for a lit cigarette or burning litter.
If the litter is not from a vehicle, it should be reported to the shire.
Between 2000 and 2001, the EPA has issued 8501 fines for industrial waste dumping or littering from a vehicle.